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Tuesday 27th December 2016 ko 11.00

Southern Combination Division One

BILLINGSHURST 3 (Hawkes 25 O’Sullivan 74 Barber 90)

MIDHURST & EASEBOURNE 0

Att 83

Entry £5

Programme £1

The nature of groundhopping can be inherently selfish, it is your own count of grounds visited after all, but just occasionally you see an opportunity where you can help. The more grounds you clock up you realise that other people will read a set of fixtures the same way. Here there were no end of opportunities to clock up 3 games in day, but when you looked at it a little closer you could see that the majority would start their day at Billingshurst.

The reason was floodlights, or rather Jubilee Fields’ lack of them. The principle is that since there are only around 1500 floodlit grounds in the UK, if you can see yourself ticking off more than that number in your groundhopping career, you should only visit floodlit grounds when the game is under lights.

The next thought was whether Billingshurst realised that a deluge of groundhoppers was likely. I contacted them via Twitter and as I’d guessed they weren’t, there was no reason for them to, that had happened a couple of years ago at Roffey. I offered what advice I could, but the biggest sticking point was exactly how many people they should expect?

On GroundhopUK duty, my opinion is based on fact, the number of prebooked tickets sold with a multiplier. Without that, the risk would be advising too high a number, and the club wasting money on programmes, and food. The club tweeted for people to tell them they were coming, which was of limited help, and I guessed at a crowd at around 100. I suppose I wasn’t too far wrong!

The club seemed to struggle with the crowd, some paid to get in, others didn’t, but unquestionably the intriguing bit of our collective mornings was the ground. As it stands it really isn’t up to Step 6 standards, being little more than a fenced-off pitch. But in the new year the club take over the lease, and have the grants in place for floodlights, a stand and so on. These photos really are the “Before” of the “Before & After” shots!

It was a highly convivial morning, and a excuse to blow away Christmas cobwebs. Teas were drunk, plans for the day discussed. The game had been in some doubt due to the frost; apparently Midhurst thought the pitch was too hard, but it soon softened up and we were treated to a fine game. Billingshurst deservingly won, even if 3-0 was rather harsh on the visitors.

The final whistle sounded, as as the stream of cars departed, I hoped Billingshurst both enjoyed and profited from their hoppers’ bonus.

 

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